The ITU Regional Workshop on Bridging the Standardization Gap (BSG) for Arab and Africa Regions took place in Algiers, Algeria, 26-28 September 2011.
The workshop was organized in association with Autorité de Régulation de la Poste et des Télécommunications (ARPT), and was generously supported by Nokia Siemens Networks and Microsoft.
The overarching goal of ITU’s Bridging the Standardization Gap program is to facilitate increased participation of developing countries in standardization, to ensure that developing countries experience the economic benefits of associated technological development, and to better reflect the requirements and interests of developing countries in the standards-development process. One specific objective of this project is to gain an understanding of the issues inhibiting the standards development, implementation, and usage capacities of developing countries.
Some 110 participants from Arab and African regions attended the workshop. The program focused on topics including ICT standardization challenges for countries in these regions, strategies for bridging the standardization gap, best practices for conformity assessment, and standardization topics being discussed in ITU-T Study Groups.
Outcomes/directives produced by the workshop:
• Participants from the African and Arab regions support the implementation of the ITU-T Conformity and Interoperability program in these regions, including the use of the ITU Mark.
• Encourage developing countries to play an active role in the reduction of the digital divide by promoting standards-oriented innovation and contributions to global standardization processes;
• Consider the creation of regional and sub-regional centres for compliance and interoperability tests;
• Actively involve members of the public, private enterprises, universities and research centres in ITU standardization activities;
• Seek ITU support for a targeted capacity-building campaign on ITU-T Recommendations (e.g. the 2-week training on Optical Cables and Systems Recommendations), and establish regional laboratories to eliminate counterfeiting;
• Establish and/or identify test laboratories in the region able to carry out physical audits and compliance tests. Tunisia is already setting up a test lab, and this could be used as a template for the region;
• Establish cooperation agreements with regional partners for the early identification of equipment non-compliance;
• Establish a Regional Centre for standardization based in Algeria, a proposal made by the President of the Council of the ARPT in her opening speech and reiterated by the Minister of Post and ICT;
• Encourage the sharing of information at a regional level by establishing a database containing blacklisted counterfeit products;
• Promote accreditation and certification schemes, and test methodology for the material production areas;
• Ensure that technical requirements are fulfilled by local products, allowing them access to regional markets; and
• Ensure that legislative and regulatory mechanisms are implemented to detect fraud and counterfeiting schemes, and to enforce penalties when such activity is discovered.
These mechanisms should be modelled on market surveillance schemes already established in other jurisdictions, such as the EU, the United States, Brazil, Canada, etc..
Interactive Training Session: 27 September 2011
The workshop was followed by a one-day Interactive Training Session in the form of a simulated Study Group meeting. These sessions are designed to provide an introduction to international standardization meetings, and familiarise participants with the typical format of the decision-making process. They are especially relevant to developing nations as they encourage participation in ITU activities, and clearly explain how these nations may play a formative role in standards creation. Some 60 participants attended the session, and very positive feedback was received.
ITU Academia Seminar: 28 September 2011
This Seminar introduced ITU’s new membership category for academia, and gave concrete examples of how academic and research institutions can benefit through participation in ITU-T Study Group activity. A professor from the American University of Beirut explicitly outlined how his institution and other universities in the region could contribute to ITU-T Study Group 17 on Security. Academia was also encouraged to provide input to ITU-T TechWatch reports.
Academia’s interest in membership was evident, with some universities declaring their intention to join ITU. Academia also expressed strong interest in receiving TSB support in developing graduate-level curricula in the field of telecommunication standards.
For more information refer to the ITU Bridging the Standardization Gap website at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/gap